Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Characterisation of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris) varieties using microsatellite markers

Marinus JM Smulders1*, G Danny Esselink1, Isabelle Everaert2, Jan De Riek2 and Ben Vosman1

Author Affiliations

1 Plant Research International, Wageningen UR Plant Breeding, PO Box 16, NL-6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands

2 Unit Plant, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research ILVO, Caritasstraat 21, B-9090 Melle, België

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BMC Genetics 2010, 11:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-11-41

Published: 18 May 2010



Sugar beet is an obligate outcrossing species. Varieties consist of mixtures of plants from various parental combinations. As the number of informative morphological characteristics is limited, this leads to some problems in variety registration research.


We have developed 25 new microsatellite markers for sugar beet. A selection of 12 markers with high quality patterns was used to characterise 40 diploid and triploid varieties. For each variety 30 individual plants were genotyped. The markers amplified 3-21 different alleles. Varieties had up to 7 different alleles at one marker locus. All varieties could be distinguished. For the diploid varieties, the expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.458 to 0.744. The average inbreeding coefficient Fis was 0.282 ± 0.124, but it varied widely among marker loci, from Fis = +0.876 (heterozygote deficiency) to Fis = -0.350 (excess of heterozygotes). The genetic differentiation among diploid varieties was relatively constant among markers (Fst = 0.232 ± 0.027). Among triploid varieties the genetic differentiation was much lower (Fst = 0.100 ± 0.010). The overall genetic differentiation between diploid and triploid varieties was Fst = 0.133 across all loci. Part of this differentiation may coincide with the differentiation among breeders' gene pools, which was Fst = 0.063.


Based on a combination of scores for individual plants all varieties can be distinguished using the 12 markers developed here. The markers may also be used for mapping and in molecular breeding. In addition, they may be employed in studying gene flow from crop to wild populations.